Canadian geek in Myanmar

Category: Random Geek Stuff

Catching and keeping your first million customers in Myanmar

I recently started to write a few articles for a local business magazine, Frontier.  Below is an excerpt and link to the first article.  The next ones are about rolling out tech to Myanmar consumers and the third about building tech for girls. Hit me up with any other ideas you think might be interesting!

Catching and keeping your first million customers in Myanmar

Myanmar’s mobile penetration has seen exponential growth particularly in urban areas, with internet penetration and smart phone adoption following at a slightly slower rate. Nearly 70 percent of Myanmar’s population lives in rural areas where mobile penetration is significantly lower than the cities. While I don’t know what percentage of those devices are smart phones, I’m willing to bet it’s in the single digits.

The easy growth part of this story is over: those who have been waiting for years to get a SIM card now have one. The challenge now is to get to the harder to reach population and areas.

For those with smart phones, there’s a big question of content. The explosion of localised apps and online services has been targeted at urban users. It’s a growing market but a market of less than 10 million people with limited purchasing power.

Myanmar has about 30 million people who have mostly come online for the first time in the past 12 months. They have no digital footprint, no knowledge of how to find content and pay for content, no online communities where they gather. So how do you get to these people?

…Read more here

Choosing easy

All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us. – J.R.R. Tolkien

It’s only been a few weeks so probably a little too early to call it but 2016 is shaping up to be the best year yet. A series of changes and shakeups, some planned and others forced have put me in an amazing place recently, both professionally and personally. It’s rare that we take the moments to slow down and recognize happiness but I have to say, right now, sitting on a rooftop watching the sun go down on the other side of Shwedagon, I’m happy. Really happy.

I’ve been mulling over this, trying to determine what’s different and how I can consciously, proactively keep living like this. I think it’s tied to a conversation I had with a friend about a week ago. I rather blithely announced that 2016 was the year of no assholes and more importantly, choosing the easy path. We laughed about the first but had a surprisingly deep conversation about the latter.

We both agreed that we needed to stop always taking the hardest, most challenging paths laid in front of us. It was time to stop proving that we could conquer and accept that we have. To start choosing ourselves over our reputations. To provide some context, this was a person who was also in their late 30’s and running a major conglomerate. I was shocked that I was getting not just support but active agreement from someone who is wildly successful and simply didn’t have an off switch that I could ever see.

As a society, we are so ingrained to believe that the easy path is the opposite of the rewarding one. That by choosing easy, we are choosing to forego rewarding. I’m hellbent to prove this wrong this year. Like I said earlier, it’s a little too early to call it but I suspect 2016 is going to be highly rewarding AND one of the easiest I’ve had in a long time. Who’s with me?

2015 wrap up

I write one of these every year and usually it comes really easily to me.  But I’ve been mulling over this particular wrap up for days and still am not entirely sure how to view 2015. Generally I can look at the past 12 months and give it a grade but 2015 was just all over the place.

One one hand, I launched a second company, met some incredible people and overall got my life back on track which was no easy feat given what 2014 looked like. I’m proud of my accomplishments and recognize that there’s been a lot of significant milestones. I’ve done things that that I didn’t think could do again and overcame a hell of a lot of insecurities and fears to get back on the entrepreneur train. All good things.

And yet, 2015 probably saw me do more things that I regret than at any other time in my life. I don’t normally live with regrets, what a useless emotion but as I sit and write this,  I also know that 2015 will leave more scars than I care to admit. But I also know that scars are character building and the lessons learned are important. The below is also an important reminder to find peace with 2015.


Those who know me, know how much I love the Christmas season. And there’s nothing as rejuvenating as going home and surrounding yourself with people who love you. This week has given me more clarity and balance than I’ve had all year. I can literally feel the stress melt away as I sip on eggnog lattes, eat gingerbread and catch up with people who have known me for decades.


Now is not the time for regrets. Now is a time for peace and joy. A time to reflect on all those who entered into my life, however briefly, to share a story, a laugh, a tear. To all my friends and readers, I hope you have a beautiful Christmas full of love and laughter and a 2016 that is successful and full of rich experiences.


I was talking to a friend about upcoming NYE plans and mentioned that I’ve not partied on the 31st for years now.  I know that the normal tradition is to ring in the new year with a big countdown and some champagne but January 1st has always been more important to me.

For the past 5 years I’ve been on a plane on the morning of the first which seems to set the right tone for the year ahead. Travel has always been a huge part of my life and starting it by going somewhere makes sense. Also, flying on the first is actually quite pleasant – the airports and planes tend to be quiet and the hassles of holiday travel are greatly reduced.

More importantly for me though,  I’ve always been on the plane alone which allows for me to reset for the year ahead. There’s something about the forced down time with no connectivity right after the craziness of the holidays that is deeply relaxing. While clean slates can be done at any time, there’s something about Jan 1st that is special, giving you some mental distance for the year behind and, good or bad, put it to bed. I’ve never been much for traditions but to my surprise, this has become one and something I don’t think will end anytime soon.



Why I write

I was talking to a fellow blogger the other day about why we love to write. I’ve been a life-long scribbler and have books and books filled with random notes from when I was young. When the Internet arrived with blogs, I moved over because it was faster to type than to hand write (but I still keep a journal where I try to write about things I’m grateful for every few days).

I write because it’s therapeutic. I write because I need to get things off my mind and there’s no better way to clear out the noise than to find a way to write it down in a concise way.  There’s nothing like reading through your own ramblings to unravel the knots and get to the heart of the matter.  Then, every once in a long while, I get a note like the following:

I adore all of your posts because I think they are enlightening while always bringing it back to a human element, but this post has been the most impactful for me and I just want to thank you for putting that together.

If sharing my (sometimes deeply personal) thoughts can have even one meaningful impact on someone’s day then that’s even more reason to keep going at it. So thank you for the kind note, and I hope that you don’t mind that I’ve shared a part of it – I know you’re reading 🙂

Incidentally, this is someone who used to work for me early in my EA days. The following is probably one of the most rewarding emails I have ever received about work so thank you so much for taking the time to write such nice words!

PS: I’ve been a digital marketing manager, leading a team of 8, for almost 3 years now, and at least once a week I find myself asking “In this situation, what would Rita do?”. While it was just a few short months in 2007, you have definitely left an impression on me all these years later.

Turning 40

In June I will be turning 40 which often shocks people who don’t know me well – thank you mom and dad for the Asian genes!!! Some of my older friends tell me that it’s pretty much a non-issue while others tell me that they were fine with it until it actually happened.  So far, I don’t have any real angst about my age. Well, rarely anyway. I did have an ex who charmingly compared parts of my body to that of a celebrity who is 15 years my junior. I lost. I guess it’s not much of a wonder why he’s an ex, huh?

In any case, I was thinking about turning 40 today. More specifically, I was thinking of turning 40 with some of my close girlfriends in Italy this summer (woohoo!). Other than using a big round number as a reason to drag my friends on a great trip, I really can’t see drowning myself in a bottle of pink bubblies. Well, yeah okay maybe I will but it won’t be in misery but rather in celebration.

I remember a conversation I had with a mentor while in my early 20’s.  She was 43, beautiful, single and by all corporate standards, wildly successful.  One night we had some drinks and she made a comment that has stayed with me for almost two decades.  She said, “I’m not sure how I got to this – in my 40’s still single and with no kids.” It was a sad and deeply personal insight into regrets of her life choices. It also scared the hell out of me.

As I face my 40’s also single and childless, I’m luckily not feeling this kind of regret. I think it comes down to being comfortable with my life. Could I have made better choices? Absolutely. I have the therapist bills to prove it too. But I’ve lived as large and bold as I know how, which isn’t always easy but definitely not dull. I remember moving back to Vancouver right before I turned 30 and thinking I needed to put down roots.  Today, I do not have that feeling. Today, I look forward to another 40 years of travels and meeting interesting people.  To learning new things and collecting more memories. To being a great auntie, sister, daughter and friend.  Those are labels I’m happy with and that’s all that really counts at the end of the day, isn’t it?

Besides, I look damn good for a middle aged lady.

Laughs for a Monday morning

I have this collection of quotes that I save and store. They range from the funny and absurd to heartbreaking and courageous. This morning I decided that I needed a good laugh so decided to share some of the good ones. Happy Monday!

cinderella-is-proof-that-a-new-pair-of-shoes-can-change-your-life-funny-quotes IMG_9782 IMG_6904 images (1) 2a2613872af700ac1cdca930b15e3f1d 98d178d1167ca4877587401414f7b2b4 Funny-Quotes-02

The secret to success for women in businesss?

Over the past few years, I’ve have the enormous pleasure of meeting many strong and successful women business leaders in Asia. I’ve been reflecting on this topic lately as I’ve more recently become friends with some women whom I think stand out as spectacular role models of how success can and should look for the rest of us to aspire to.  More specifically, what makes them so special in my estimation is that I have rarely seen successful business women enjoy the ride so thoroughly. They’re great, they know they’re great and there isn’t an angry edge with them that is common with women at the top.  While all of these women would never be considered anyone’s fool – there is obviously an iron core running through them – there’s a warmth and approachability to them. They love to laugh, tell bawdy jokes and dance into the wee hour of the morning. They show off pictures of their beautiful kids, have hobbies & interests outside of work and yet respond to emails, follow up on commitments and have absolutely no false ego. These ladies are positive and encouraging and most importantly, don’t carry any kind of chip on their shoulder.

The other, really bizarre commonality – they all have two sons.  Without exception the women I’m thinking of have this one common quality!  Women such as Sylvia from Frontier, Zinmar at KBZ, Thiri from Sandanila, Amy from NetSmart and of course my sister Rose at Maxus.  How very odd!! That’s not to say that I’m going to run out and try to get pregnant anytime soon but seems like it may be an idea to consider for those younger ladies starting out in their careers…(probably doesn’t need to be said but I was just kidding about that last part).

The brilliance of George Carlin

I found this from my personal blog (no, I’m not sharing the link as it’s much more like a diary and isn’t open to external eyes).  But I’ve been writing in it more often and found the below. It resonated now as much as it did a few years ago.  So…I share with you the brilliance of George Carlin, may he rest in peace.

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints.

We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less.

We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time.

We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values.

We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life.

We’ve added years to life not life to years.

We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor.

We conquered outer space but not inner space.

We’ve done larger things, but not better things.

We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul.

We’ve conquered the atom, but not our prejudice.

We write more, but learn less.

We plan more, but accomplish less.

We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait.

We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships.

These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes.

These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throw-away morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill.

It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom.

A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete.

Remember, spend some time with your loved ones because they are not going to be around forever.

Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.

Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart which doesn’t cost a cent.

Remember, to say, “I love you” to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all to mean it.

A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.

Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.

Give time to love, give time to speak, and give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind. Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.


1. Throw out nonessential numbers. This includes age, weight and height. Let the doctor worry about them. That is why you pay him/her.

2. Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down.

3. Keep learning. Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever. Never let the brain idle. ”An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” And the devil’s name is Alzheimer’s.

4. Enjoy the simple things.

5. Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath.

6. The tears happen. Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person who is with us our entire life, is ourselves. Be ALIVE while you are alive.

7. Surround yourself with what you love, whether it’s family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge.

8. Cherish your health: If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.

9. Don’t take guilt trips. Take a trip to the mall, to the next county, to a foreign country, but NOT to where the guilt is.

10. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity.


Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

Giving thanks

Today is Canadian Thanksgiving and a good enough time as any to reflect on the past and look towards the future.  Those of you who know me, know I am not much for looking in the rearview mirror but sometimes it’s necessary to do so that you don’t miss out on the lessons.

I’m so incredibly grateful to the new friends, mentors and advisors I have in my life today – you know who you are.  You have all had a big part in pulling me out of the darkness and back to the (sometimes overwhelming) spotlight.

I’m happy to have removed the toxic people from my life. Those who lie, cheat and betray have no place in my professional or personal life and they are *finally* all purged. One of the good things about the darkness is that you can more clearly see who belongs there.

I have a job and a team that keeps me excited and motivated and insanely proud every day.  I wake up and know that we are doing amazing things that are going to make a lasting impact in this country.

And last but not least, my incredible family for whom I can not begin to express my gratitude and love.  I would never have survived the past two years without their unwavering support and unconditional love.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian friends around the world!